29 August 13

Developing Undercover Work at BIRN Summer School

The fourth day of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Summer School programme continued with lectures on undercover operations and research, as well as tips for following paper trails in stories.

Former FBI undercover operative Stephen Salmieri told the journalists participating in the Summer School that undercover investigative work is extremely dangerous, which is why it should be used as sparingly and requires a lot of preparation.

In order to minimise security risks, Salmieri said that journalists working undercover should not change their personality. He also said that journalists should know their targets and research their sources, as well as keep in constant contact with their parent organisation.

"When doing investigations, know everything you can know your enemy. Let go of your ego and reduce tensions. If you come across as aggressive, the situation will quickly escalate," said Salmieri.

A perfect undercover agent, according to Salmieri, is a smart and aware person who listens carefully.

Two times Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Nalder gave the participants of the Summer School tips on how to gather material evidence and documents from companies and organisations. He emphasised the importance of physically going to organisations, carefully interviewing workers and using psychological tricks to control the communication with them.

Nalder also said that after gathering documents, journalists should organise them carefully.

“Always be organised. Use Excel or other spreadsheets to organise your documents, otherwise you might get lost in them,” said Nalder.

British journalist David Leigh also discussed the need to collect documents, but also highlighted that while writing the story, journalists should make sure to provide readers with several points of access.

“Provide photos, interviews, galleries and short clips. Presentation is key. Your story is useless if it does not reach the public,” said Leigh.

The BIRN Summer School is taking place this week in Slovenia with 30 journalists from Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Austria, Estonia, France and Romania participating. It will finish on Friday.

The BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting 2013 is organised in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation, the Belgian National Lottery, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the OSCE Mission to Serbia and USAID in Macedonia.

Fill out my online form.

Latest News and Events

kallxo-com-press-conference

KALLXO.com Reveals Problems with Matura Exam Process

KALLXO.com presented findings of a monitoring report from the second round of the 2014 National Matura Exam, held on June 28 in Kosovo.

birn-summer-school-chooses-winning-stories

BIRN Summer School Chooses Winning Stories

The three best stories proposed by participants in this year’s Summer School were selected by the jury and will get financial backing from BIRN’s investigative reporting fund.

birn-kosovo-director-and-legal-advisor-gave-a-speech-at-dokutech

BIRN Kosovo Director and Legal Advisor Spoke at Doku:Tech

As the internet and technology become more and more important in people’s lives, security looms an ever larger concern. That’s why this year during the documentary film festival Dokufest devoted a separate arena for “Doku:Tech” covering technology, the internet and innovation.

birn-albania-launches-reporter-al-website

BIRN Albania Launches Reporter.al Website

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania has launched a new website designed to bring its award winning news, analysis, features and investigations to local audiences, and strengthen the cooperation between journalists and civil society.

summer-school-day-4-collaborative-reporting-on-social-media

Summer School Day 4: Collaborative Reporting on Social Media

Social media can be an important tool for investigative journalists, the fourth day of the BIRN Summer School in Montenegro heard.

summer-school-day-3-avoid-pressure-take-time-and-listen-more

Summer School Day 3: “Avoid pressure, take time and listen more”

Undercover policing, FIFA corruption and drug cartels were among the themes explored by award-winning journalists at the BIRN summer school of investigative reporting.

summer-school-day-2-from-uk-riots-to-legal-leaks

Summer School Day 2: From UK Riots to Legal Leaks

The UK riots, legal leaks, how to protect sources and tracking money abroad were all explored in the second day of BIRN’s summer school.

birn-summer-school-kicks-off-in-montenegro

BIRN Summer School Kicks off in Montenegro

The fifth BIRN summer school of investigative journalism has opened in the Montenegrin coastal town of Becici, bringing together top trainers and journalists.

birn-macedonia-launches-fifth-call-for-investigative-reports

BIRN Macedonia Launches Fifth Call for Investigative Reports

BIRN Macedonia, together with Centre for Investigative journalism - SCOOP Macedonia and the Centre for Civil Communications launched the fifth call for investigative stories on August 25th.

serbian-tabloid-targets-birn-after-airline-revelations

Serbian Tabloid Targets BIRN after Airline Revelations

The pro-government tabloid ‘Informer’ has published a series of allegations about the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, following its investigation into a secret government contract with the UAE’s Etihad Airways.

In This Article

Network